Learner retention of medical vocabulary based on instructional format and success in medical coding

Madelon Reed Gruich, University of Southern Mississippi


This quantitative research study explores the correlation between instructional formats and the measurement of knowledge retention, as well as subsequent course mastery and whether other factors such as age, ethnicity, gender, number of study hours, number of work hours, and family responsibilities influence learning outcomes. The healthcare data technology program attracts large numbers of individuals seeking training in this administrative healthcare field and was the focal area of the research for this study. The participants in the study were the students enrolled in the healthcare data technology program of a southeastern community college, preparing for employment in the medical billing and coding field. Data collected include medical terminology final exam scores obtained from online and face-to-face instructional formats and medical procedural coding final exam scores. These scores were compared to determine if a relationship exists between medical vocabulary knowledge retention levels and coding mastery. In addition to one-way Analysis of Variance and Analysis of Covariance, the study also utilizes descriptive analysis of demographic data and responses to a questionnaire regarding participants' opinions of their online or face-to-face instructional experiences. Findings of the study indicate that the face-to-face instructional format results in higher means of medical terminology final exam scores and knowledge retention, while coding proficiency tends to be about the same regardless of instructional format. Students may decide to take virtual courses online but still prefer the face-to-face instructional format where greater interaction with instructors is more likely. Moreover, this study supports research literature that other factors such as self-efficacy, innate motivation, and satisfaction with instructional format affect learning.